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Employers Should Consider an Anti-Marijuana Stance, Even in "Green" States

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Brandon Grysko, Esq.

In the not-so-distant past, employers could-and did-simply have a blanket prohibition on possession and use of illegal drugs in the workplace. However, this issue has become more complicated as voters in Michigan have approved marijuana use for both recreational (adult-use) and medical purposes. Employers should revise their policies to make their position on marijuana clear. Even though marijuana is legal in Michigan, employers should still consider an anti-pot stance.

First and foremost, recognize that, as the employer, you have the right to set workplace policies and practices. That right doesn't end just because marijuana has grown more acceptable in society. Michigan's adult-use marijuana law and medical marijuana law recognize your right to continue to enforce workplace drug policies.

Even though over half of Michigan voters were in favor of marijuana, an employer should consider banning pot for legitimate business reasons. Statistics show that nearly half of all serious workplace accidents involve drugs or alcohol. Drug-dependent workers are involved in more on-the-job accidents, which can have workers compensation and OSHA implications. Moreover, drug-dependent workers use twice the amount of healthcare benefits as non-drug-dependent workers - a factor that may significantly increase the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Remember, too, that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Any employer who has aspirations of competing for federal grants and contracts will be subject to the Drug Free Workplace Act and should still prohibit marijuana. Other industries are required to remain weed free due to federal regulations. The Department of Transportation, for example, regulates truck drivers. They released a statement clarifying that marijuana use is prohibited by the regulations, even in weed-legal states.

Michigan marijuana law gives employers latitude to decide for themselves what the best course of action is. Given the direct conflict between federal and state law and the implications on workplace safety and productivity, employers should consider taking an anti-marijuana stance. If you need help navigating this evolving area of labor and employment law, contact an attorney who understands Michigan marijuana laws and who can recommend policies that suit your business.

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